Reilly Brown talks about 3rd year

A day in the life

Reilly Brown talks about 3rd year


It’s a close-knit community. Classes are small enough that you get to know everyone, interacting through skills lab or PBL. And the profs are all great – you can go to them about anything. They’re always willing to get to know students.

Meeting the challenges of third year

Reilly Brown, originally from Sydney, Cape Breton, knew before starting third year that it would be a little tougher than second year. But he also knew that the way the program is structured – building on the complexity of what students need to know – meant he’d be able to handle it.

The problem-based learning (PBL) classes, for example, “in itself isn’t more difficult,” says Reilly. “But third year is more challenging compared to second year. In third year, you learn about a lot more drugs, for example.” In particular, he’s expanded his knowledge of the drugs used to treat cardiovascular diseases, disorders of the central nervous system (such as depression), and diabetes. “I feel a lot more comfortable now if I have to discuss different drugs with a patient. You feel that much closer to being a pharmacist after third year.”

The skills lab also continues to be a great learning experience, particularly in how to deal with challenging patients. “It’s good to be prepared for what could be an unusual situation, and to get used to it here in a learning environment, rather than seeing it for the first time in the real world.”

He explains that in a recent skills lab, connected with a lecture on the central nervous system, a visiting community pharmacist played the role of a patient with schizophrenia. “He showed the typical signs: flattened emotions, providing little information – it was really hard to communicate.” Though Reilly found the experience challenging, it was also helpful: “If you encounter something like it in real life, you can say, ‘Oh, I saw this in skills lab, this is how I dealt with it, or this is what was recommended by the observing pharmacist.”

Developing critical thinking skills for self-directed practice

Another aspect of third-year is critical appraisal, which involves reading journal articles in preparation for the self-directed learning pharmacists need to do in their practice. “If someone comes in and asks an atypical question, something you don't know off the top of your head, you know how to find relevant research,” Reilly explains. “It also teaches us to look at journal articles from a critical perspective” and identify any potential issues that may affect interpretation.”

He’s already discovering that his classroom learning has real-world application. During the school year, he’s been working part time in a pharmacy: “It helps me apply what I learn in school, and I’m able to draw on my experiences at work and take them to the problem-based learning classes, too,” he explains. “I can tell my PBL group, ‘I saw this the other day at work…”